Dubai Filipinos who find themselves struck down with homesickness, worried about their jobs, or suffering from debt-related stress can now turn to their Consulate for help and guidance.
Dr. Rommel Sergio, a counselling psychologist and Professor at Canadian University Dubai, started a series of seminars and workshops at the consulate in March 2016 in order to train Consulate staff to psychologically support their fellow citizens in the UAE.
Thirty to fifty Filipinos visit the consulate each week for problems such as clarification of the labour law, dealing with unfair work practices, problems adjusting to a new country and financial problems relating to non-payment of credit cards or bank loans. However, when they come for labour advice, they also talk about other issues and unleash their emotions about issues such as employment, abuse, overwork, harassment, job loss or the illegal confiscation of their passports.
Dr. Rommel started this initiative by donating his services for free, hoping that positive psychology would help his countrymen. In addition he began training a group of in-house counselors at the Philippine’s Consulate General (PCG) to deliver counseling to Overseas Filipino Workers.
Dr. Rommel has trained the counselors at the PCG to encourage their clients to take steps to resolve their issues by informing, explaining, interpreting, and advising while being emphatic and allowing the client to express his or her feelings freely.
“The educators of today must not just be confined to being excellent in teaching and research alone,” says Dr. Rommel. “The cornerstone of the educational arena calls for service, particularly community engagement. We are living in a ‘humanistic age’ where helping others through counseling can make a lot of difference.”
Looking to the future the team is currently conceptualizing a well-being program for the counselors at PCG and for those in need (some of whom are eventually housed in a specific space at the PCG if they have escaped their employers due to maltreatment). This will not be limited to providing occasional counseling but other activities such as recreation programs.
Dr. Rommel has also involved experts from other institutions who are also engaged in community counselling work, so now there is a core group on call.
“Helping others is indeed an excellent way to share your time and expertise,” says Dr. Rommel. “Training people to help others through counseling is for a bigger cause. Do not think twice. Help unconditionally if you think you have what it takes to be in this kind of initiative.”